Thursday, October 30, 2008

It is that good.

Happy early Halloween party people. I didn't have a costume, but then I developed this weird eye infection which has swollen my eyelid to ridiculous proportions so I am now thinking that I should probably be a pirate. Random but gross, I know.

So I have a lot of feelings. Some may call them opinions, but I am pretty sure they are all just intelligent portrayals of reality. Like how I am pretty sure that Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing Boneless Wings are the best little finger food morsels to ever be invented. Or how the scale of fun goes biking > hiking > running > dental exams > watching President Bush give a speech > work. I recently spoke my true feelings of the Cox Cable Co. and all things evil that surround them and guess what, you agreed. I also think that I could factually state that all local politicians robocalls (of which I receive at least 3 a day on my cell phone) suck so bad that Hoover can't even begin to compete with their true suckiness.

But the feeling that really matters right now, the one that keeps me up at night is this. Why is it that a show like Dexter, can be so so good, but I (previously) and most of America has never heard of it, while a show like American Idol version 142 or I've Been Lost For 10 Seasons Now can suck so bad and millions tune in night after night. Okay, I figured it guys don't like serial killers. I get it, but Dexter is a good serial killer...he only kills the bad people. Ah I know, it because you guys don't want to pay an extra $43 for Showtime on top of your $213 cable bill. That I get, however once again, let me recommend Netflix On Demand.

Season 1 was awesome and I can't wait to watch Season 2.

Really, what is America coming too, with their bad television choices. Sigh.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Biking Sedona's Red Rock

Submarine Rock, Sedona Arizona

One thing I have never gotten used to even after nearly 5 years living in Arizona is just how many amazing things there is to do in nature in my backyard. I could explore within a five hour radius of Phoenix every weekend for 10 years, and still not get to everything. This being said, I have never biked in Sedona. Lame, I know...

Until now.

We finally decided to hit up this crowded paradise just to see what the biking is all about. Let me just say, it is awesome. In a five hour period, we rode amazing singletrack, incredibly fun slick rock, and wrecked on some gnarly technical downhills all under the canopy of the most incredible view you can imagine. Jack, Sarah and I all had at least one half wreck... only Angel emerged unscathed. Okay, I had more like 2.5.

Less words, more pictures... coming up.

We head first from Oak Creek Village along the Bell Rock Trail to Templeton Trail.
This trail then does a loop around Cathedral Rock (seen in distance).

Even the dirt is bright red in Sedona. The first part of this trail is fast and fun.

Jack stops to take in the magestic view.

The trail then cuts into the side of Cathedral Rock where it becomes tight
singletrackon the side of slickrock. Very awesome riding!

After some nasty switchbacks, the trail drops down along the Oak Creek where we found t
his awesome swing. Notice the falls leaves.... yeah for Sedona.

A little hike a bike followed by several big drops which I promptly attempted knowing I shouldn't and then crashed down landing gracefully at the bottom without only a little bruising. Twice.

Following the Cathedral Rock loop, we hit up H.D. Trail and took it over to Little Chicken and the Submarine Rock Loop. Here we ran into some pink jeeps and some fun slickrock.

No, I did not wreck on this one.

King of the Rock

We followed the slickrock Broken Arrow trail out to the main road and into Sedona for lunch... which was great until we had to bike the hills back from Sedona to Oak Creek on a full stomach.

Overall a great day of riding and I definitely plan to return there. Also Happy Diwali to my sister and bro-in-law and all the peoples representing the HDus.

--All pics taken by Angel, Sarah and Jack since I forgot my camera--

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am here to save you $.

I am contemplating a big move, a bold statement against the evil forces at work, a stand against the incredibly expensive pigeon hole that society has forced me into.

That is right, my husband and I are in negotiations to cancel our cable. Screw you Cox. You have terrible HD reception, a million hidden surcharges and really just suck. Plus you cost $80 a month.

See we pay you something like $145 a month for phone, internet and cable. We don't use the phone, so when we called you to cancel it, you said, "no problem, you bill will now be $3 cheaper". WTF? Basically we lost our bundle savings making it virtually worthless to not have a phone. So now we only pay $142, ($60 for internet, $80 for phone)... woohoo smoking deal.

So how big of a deal is to cancel cable: NOT BIG AT ALL. See even though I don't watch very much TV anymore, when I had some down time to kill, I like it as a time waster option. Mostly I just DVR the three shows a weeks a week I watch (right now Life, How I Met Your Mother and The Office, plus 30 Rock, coming soon). So how will I replace these in my life if I cancel the cable?

Easy peazy. It can be done without any disruption to your life, while still utilizing the giant HD tv society forced you into thinking you needed.

Step 1) Buy or in my case build a cheap desktop computer (no graphics card needed). A laptop also works!
Step 2) Hook up said computer to the internet and to the back of your HD TV with a VGA cable and a simple audio headphone to headphone jack cable.
Step 3) Purchase and hook up an HD antenna to said HD TV.
Step 4) Purchase or steal a cheap wireless cable and mouse.
Step 5) Subscribe to Netflix for $12 dollars a month so you get unlimited Online On Demand.

And there you have it.

The HD antenna will get you perfect quality picture for all your local television (channels 3 - 62) and according to most people, some cable channels as well for free. You can also watch complete episodes from most shows online over your HD TV through you computer for ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Comedy Central ... etc so no need for DVR.

For shows that are only available through Cable, you have the choice of buying them from ITunes per episode, or what I do is watch specific shows unlimited for free from Netflix On Demand online. Shows like Dexter or Weeds are up there and have no commercials, stream flawlessly over the internet and look great in full screen mode on our big TV. If that isn't enough, there are also sites like Hulu and YouTube, which are homes to hundreds of movies and shows. The final kicker is that if you are a big fat criminal, you can download pretty much anything for free (not that I am advocating this).

Okay so I realize that the startup costs I mentioned are not that, antenna, some cables, wireless mouse and keyboard so that you don't have to get your lazy butt up ever, and subscription to Netflix ($12/month). But chances are you already have some of this stuff laying around your house... and think of it as an investment in the future, it has to be better than your 401k right now.

If technology scares you, well... I can think of two options.
1) Go to a bar at happy hour right next door to a major engineering firm or computer company. Look for the group of nerdy looking guys/gals. Proceed.
2) Google is everyone's best friend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get yourself a nice one honey.

We ride.

We fix bikes.

Tom, Angel and I went biking this weekend. Up and over the ridge at the Phoenix Mountain Range then pedal pedal pedal through the ghetto to visit our friend Alicia. She is recovering from a rugby injury that required surgery. Any guesses what it is? That's right, blown ACL. It is so common in women's rugby, it may as well be a right of passage for retirement. And once you do it twice, you get to tell anyone who suggests you try to play again to "bite me" with a mean glare.

Anyway, during our 1.5 hour ride, both of Tom's tires came loose and started to fall off and his brake was rubbing so bad that it felt like the bike was pulling a 100 pound gorilla behind. I kindly suggested that we walk the bike to the nearest dumpster and throw it away, to which he replied "it just needs a tune-up". Right, honey... just a little oil and the $115.00 + tax Huffy from Target will become the carbon fiber custom ride that every biker dreams about. The man hates spending money on things like this, but really when the wife tells you to buy a new toy, you should buy it. God knows that I have spend enough money of bike stuff in the past year.

Speaking of bikes, it gets dark by 6 o'clock now so that means any biking I do is in the dark... too bad that I am taping a flashlight to my bike along with my little helmet light so that I can see at night. Maybe I need to go shopping too. Yup.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Rant: Proceed at your own risk.

So are you ready for the election to be over yet? Tired of your favorite show being overtaken by numerous debates or election humor? Maybe you are just tired of your lunchtime table talk involving the merits of lipstick on pigs being eaten by Joe Plumber whose business is being bombed by black Arab terrorists who drill polar bears habitats in their free time, all the while spying on their maritime get my point.

Media has sensationalized this election to a mix between Gossip Girl, Rudy and Comic Last Standing. Who can make fun of the other person's American Dream while spreading lies more effectively?

The reality is, we are up shit creek without a paddle. We being the world. Our economy is falling apart because money has been backed on credit and promises and if we (the US) stop buying, the world hurts. Did you know that 20% of all factories in SW China (where cheap crap is made people) have recently shut their doors. Guess what this means? Yup, Walmart just got a little more expensive. And that the Asian stock market is down 40%...very very bad.

As for racism, bigotry, sexism and stupidity...geez, this election sure has been effective in pointing out that these things are still rippling strongly through our great country. Check out these normal nicely dressed people being interviewed in Strongsville, Ohio (45 min from where I grew up). proud. Hatred based on someone's name is a totally legitimate action. Right. Thank you McCain for your help in exposing the social divides that befall our country to this day. And thank you for stooping to all new levels of "try to win an election based on fear and slander".

So what do I think about the "state of the union"? Well I am no Joe Plumber, so this is just based on whatever is left in my tiny little female brain after it has dealt with all the day to day necessities like cooking, cleaning and dealing with "women's health issues" [--i use quotes, because it recently has been brought to my attention that this concept may just be made up by those flaming liberal pro-abortion people--]. See here.

I believe that some of the largest crooks in our country are sitting right in the offices of Bank [everyone in America] and Insurance Company [every other one in America]. Greed has made these people rich rich rich and until the government assumes some control either through regulation or gasp... taking them over... they will continue to make as much money as possible regardless of what is right or who they hurt. Our government needs to stop the runaway train, before the insurance companies are the only companies making any money anymore (because believe me, insurance companies are like Vegas, they always come out on top).

As for the various gay marriage bands around the country (102 in Arizona, 108 in California), I just want to know why the churches who have raised millions of dollars to try get these "gay marriage" bans to pass, still support divorce in their church [--yes I am looking at you LDS, they gave 10 million to fight Prop 108--]. How is that not just as damaging to family values as Jane and Janet tying the knot. Why should money which is donated to a church coffer to "help those less fortunate" be used to buy 1000s of giant signs seen all over my neighborhood [--written in English and Spanish no less]. Judging your fellow neighbor and providing a moral platform for hate crime based against a group of fellow human beings: real Christian.

I could go on and on all day about things that fire me up but it is Friday afternoon, and there are better things to do than rant about the war in Iraq and how much it is costing us, how duck tape couldn't fix the Titantic and neither will drilling fix our oil problems, or how all the "6 degree of separation charts" in the world can't link Obama with Osama.

Like drinking an adult beverage and taking a deep breath that I made it through another week of OChem and work and volunteer without doing something crazy like punching a brick wall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Extreme Heat: McDowell Night Adventure Race

My plans Saturday changed abruptly from lazily biking around the Tour de Fat Festival in Tempe while guzzling a Fat Tire to running and biking around in the dark cold desert looking for orange markers hanging off cactus in the Extreme Heat Night AR at McDowell Mountain Park just north of Phoenix. A good trade-off right? The race director Rick shot our team an email Saturday morning to persuade Team ODP to come out to defend our title in the third and final race of the series taking place that evening. After ringing up Sarah and talking her into doing it (she was already at the festival and had already had a Fat Tire), I threw my stuff together and started to try to hydrate myself from Friday night's hard workout and subsequent brewery activities.

The race started at 6 pm just as the sun was setting with 5 quick orienteering points scattered around the TA. It was basically just a mad sprint to try to grab all five before the first mystery event. The challenge event was to throw a frisbee into a fire pit about 30 feet away. Now Sarah and I both play ultimate frisbee so our frisbee throwing skills show had given us an advantage, umm nope. The discs we got to use were not exactly UPA standard 175g discs. Even Tom Brady would have problems playing the Superbowl with a nerf football. So we sucked like everyone else and eventually got the disk in the pit after it skipped off another competitor.

We jumped on our bike for four more checkpoints just as it became mostly dark. Since we hadn't planned on racing, Sarah and I had to scramble last minute for some bike lights to ride with. Sarah borrowed our friend's moto lights which while bright as hell, weighed a ton and had to be taped on to the handlebars because the clasp was too big. I on the hand just opted to use a really crappy old LED commuter light which I also had to tape on to my bike along with my brand new L&M Stella 200 headlight. This headlight is great as a secondary light source (mostly used for on helmets) but really isn't bright enough for technical single track at speed in complete dark. It ended up working just fine for this course though.

The first part of the ride is a long gradual uphill on double track. It isn't hard, but there are just enough sandtraps to slow down the beginner biker. Sarah and I cranked hard on this section passing about 4 or 5 teams until we were out in front. Riding through sand like this takes a little bit of speed, a little bit of finesse with steering, and the ability to jerk your front wheel against the direction it wants to take while pedaling hard. The checkpoints were very easily put at main trail junctures so we were able to collect all of them easily (for once). Once we got to the single track, we got passed by one men's team, but were were able to open up our lead on third a little more. There wasn't any real technical parts to the riding so lights weren't really an issue and we came back into the TA with no mishaps and solidly in 2nd place among all teams.

Back at the TA we had to complete another challenge using 5 blocks of wood to transport the both of us around a cone without touching the ground. I am not sure our technique was that good, but we got it done.

The final four checkpoints were trekking covering about ~7ish miles. We took off down a dark rocky path and it was definitely a little weird for me with my knee. I don't wear my big brace anymore but I probably should have on this. I usually am real careful about off road running because I just don't trust my knee yet, but in the dark, you don't really have that luxury. As I stated in my last post, I have been having knee issues for a couple of weeks and hadn't ran in over 3 weeks. We were currently in second place but I know that both our nav and our running abilities were probably inferior to some of the teams behind. The night was too beautiful to worry about that though.

We got the first CP easily, but promptly wasted time looking for second one in several wrong washes. The third place team caught us at this time and we followed them for a bit before one their teammates starting cramping and we passed them again. We followed the wash sort of just following it in whatever direction it meandered because we were looking to hit a service road which was on the map. When we finally hit a road and saw a semi truck pass us, we realized that we were not on the right road. We somehow had taken a wrong branch of the wash and ended up missing the road and running an additional ~1 mile out of the park onto the main road leading into town. An extra .5 mile run would get us back to where we needed to be.

ARGHHHH. Well it wouldn't be an ODP race if we didn't screw up at at least once.

When we finally got to the next checkpoint after reentering the park, we saw a team up ahead of us a ways. We knew we had been passed by some people that hadn't screwed up so that was a little disheartening. At this point, we had two checkpoints and a couple miles left to go and I was really starting to limp. I think it was making my hold stride off because I had a strange sharp pain in my opposite foot and my back was killing me. But honestly, running at night seems to take away all your senses and leave you with only one small circle of light to follow and other than stopping occasionally to stretch, we were still running decently.

We followed a mountain biking trail which is used for technical competitions up over a ridgeline. It had some hairy descents for being on foot (or with a bike) and I think I slowed up because we could see some lights behind us slowly catching up. As we got to CP 9, they caught us and we all ran together to CP 10. I was starting to struggle badly at this point and it took everything I had to hang onto the back of them.

After CP 10, it was just a race for the two teams back to the TA. I was sure that I couldn't keep up with them, but then I saw the TA lit up and glowing off in the distance and I felt this surge of energy come over me. I picked up the pace and Sarah followed passing the team and sprinting across the line as the third place official team and first in the women's division. We hung around a campfire made by burning the wood mystery event planks while cheering on the other finishers. It was freezing (upper 40s) once we stopped moving.

A big thanks to Rick Eastman, owner of Sierra Adventure Sports for motivating us to get out butts out there and finish up the series we started. All picture were stolen off his site.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Knee Update - 7.5 months out.

So after the fiasco that was the Gilmore AR and increasing frustration with my inability to really run, I decided to take some time off of competing to concentrate on my knee rehab. I had made a lot of progress and in some ways my core strength is still improving, but I noticed that I haven't really been progressing in certain ways. Things I still struggle with: one leg hopping, or any hopping side to side at all, one legged squats, overall quad strength, cutting, side shuffling, slow jogging without limping, any cutting, speed of muscle firing (lifting actions are very slow). Looking at this list, it is easy to see that I stopped doing my core rehab drills too early to get back to my favorite activities.

I realize that I am 7.5 months out of surgery so expecting to be 100% is ridiculous, but after a fast start to recovery, I feel that I have slowed down considerably. Is it safe to assume that since I have had two major knee injuries and subsequent surgeries in the past two years, it will take longer to get back to 100%? I am slowing starting to realize that although biking and biking are great for getting me back into shape, they allow me to favor one leg too easily and aren't helping my progress. I guess I need to focus on specific lifting and rehab drills. --BORING--

So I am at a quandary because I admit to not really knowing what to do in the gym to fix the specific weaknesses I have. I sort of feel lost as to whether I should go back to physical therapy or not. What I really want is a personal trainer who will work my whole body, but has my knee in mind as my number 1 priority. The problem with traditional therapy is that they only deal with the injury and not the whole body. I don't have time to go to therapy and try to fit in an additional workout every day. I work 9 hours a day, go to school 2 nights a week and volunteer another...I don't really even know that I have time for therapy.

So with all this overwhelming evidence, it seemed stupid to commit money to compete in bike or adventure racing at least for the rest of this year. I need to focus on boring things like one legged knee dips.....argh. Plus, I need to make sure that I am going to be able to hike the Incan Trail in Peru in November.

Basically, if anyone has any experience or advice, I am all ears.

And after all this chit chat about not competing for the rest of the year, I lied. I got an email Saturday morning asking if our adventure racing team wanted a last minute chance to defend our Extreme Heat series title in the night race finale that evening. With 6 hours to spare, Sarah and I jumped at the chance and raced the 20 mile course at McDowell Mountain Park under the full moon. I will give a report on that later, but I will say it was truly awesome and we won the women's division again to sweep the three race series. And my knee? Sucked hard core on the run over loose steep hills with all sorts of swelling and throbbing and I could have cared less at the time.

Sometimes you just have to redraw the line of pain.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Video of Tonto Creek

Here is a video I made of clips from Tonto Creek. I warn you that I put absolutely no effort into this so it is not very good. Also, waterproof cameras rock. That is all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Summer End: Tonto Creek

On Sunday, my gang of female outlaws fresh off a recent wagon train robbing decided to head to Tonto Creek for one final hurrah before the water becomes too cold for desert sissies like me to jump into. We went further up the canyon than I had been previously and found a couple of awesome water falls and more cliff jumping. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

The trail seems a little more jungle-like than last time...

Standing at the beginning of the narrows.

Good cliff jumping cliff. Who is game?

Of course Sarah is game!

Further up the canyon there is a lot of swimming.

We reach some falls ahead... now it is getting fun.

This little guy was real cute, but he smelled.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oh America...

E.T. phone home. Looks like him right? ~Bryce Canyon, UT

In the eternal quest for witty and entertaining blog topics, sometimes the well runneth dryeth. I feel a little like John McCain, just trying to polish the same old turd policy into something new and exciting. It ain't working John.

Planning on watching the VP debate tonight? I will try to tune in if I can stand it. I do enjoy a good spot of improv comedy. Hopefully Palin leaves suitable breaks after her rambles so that it is easier to insert laugh tracks later. Did you know she reads every single newspaper? All of them. She said so here. Although I think that show Street Smarts may have a legitimate copywrite infringement complaint that she is ripping off the concept of their show, albeit by accident.

Okay I will stop making fun of her. I will leave that to all of the amazingly funny and articulate news comedians out there... John S, Rachel M, Tina F, and this.

As for the economy, well let just say that I am glad I am not 61 years old and hoping for retirement anytime soon. My 401K is only down 21% this year... which is wonderful [sarcasm]. Damn those pork barrel spending aholes. They are to blame, according to McCain. Wow, that totally rhymed and I didn't even try. How that sense I don't understand, but curbing that piggy barrel spending seems to be his entire economic plan.

Remember when we used to back money with gold and the dollar was worth a shit? Those were good times. Happy Thursday folks.